The first and only one of its kind in the south-east of England, the programme will be delivered by the Natural Resources Institute (NRI).
The programme, Climate Change Bsc, is designed to provide specialist scientific knowledge of climate change, in particular the factors which determine decarbonisation and support local adaptation measures. The hosting of COP26 in Glasgow this year reaffirms the UK’s central role in the global response, particularly given that the US has been readmitted to the Paris agreement. Students starting higher education now will enter employment during a pivotal period, where countries review and renew their decarbonisation commitments.
This degree programme is founded upon the need to convey practical and conceptual skillsets with a focus around climate mitigation and adaptation. In providing practical skills in carbon accounting, risk assessment and geographic information systems, students are offered a head-start in their careers as organisations, both large and small, are forced to respond to climate impacts or commit to reduce their emissions.
Students will study with leading experts from NRI at the University’s Medway campus. NRI is an inter-disciplinary research institute, comprising a unique and diverse group of academics with research interests ranging from insect ecology to economics and most subjects in-between. This reflects the interdisciplinary character of this programme, allowing students to pursue specialisms according to individual interests. Many staff members have decades of experience working directly with climate vulnerable communities. This international outlook supports a diverse cohort, allowing students to benefit from interacting with peers from all over the world. Teaching staff continue to contribute to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports as authors and lead reviewers. NRI itself has received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its sustainable pest control research, as the risks posed by many insects are climate sensitive.
More generally, the University has an ambitious climate change agenda and has set the goal of being net carbon zero by 2030. The University’s recent 2018/19 sustainability report revealed that carbon emissions were down over 50% across the institution and supply chain emissions have been reduced by 31,920 tonnes.
Dr Conor Walsh, Environmental Scientist, NRI and programme leader BSc (Hons) Climate Change and MSc Global Environmental Change, said: ‘The scale and urgency of this challenge means that the time remaining to avoid dangerous climate change is diminishing, coinciding with the working lives of those studying now. Advancing the climate literacy, skills and knowledgebase of the workforce has never been more important to advancing climate solutions.’